A mixture of five evergreen and deciduous columnar trees against a white background

12 Great Columnar Trees for Your Landscape

Columnar Trees deliver vertical impact.

Columnar trees deliver vertical impact. They add power to the landscape. A single spire-like specimen can anchor a planting bed and provide a pleasing contrast of form to rounded or wide-spreading plants. Thoughtfully sited, a pair of slim Columnar Trees can elegantly frame a doorway or a gate. They can even be used in a row to create a fence.

A Natural Privacy Fence

Columnar trees are often used to create a natural privacy fence. Because they grow narrow without need for excessive pruning they’re perfect for placing close together in a row. Besides privacy, these trees also act as a natural windbreaker, and noise buffer. This is why you might see them planted right up against a house that sits on a busy street. Columnar trees are a natural way to help to block noise pollution from traffic!

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Columnar Trees: Low Maintenance, High Benefits

Columnar trees are narrow trees with crisp, clean outlines. This lends to their formal appearance. Many columnars appear to have been meticulously pruned, even though the shears may have never left the shed. Their stand-at-attention posture fits seamlessly into the formal areas around your foundation beds, entryway garden, or patio plantings, and their tiny footprint ensures that they can always squeeze themselves in wherever some structure is needed. These neat, formal Trees also complement natural landscapes by adding structure and definition to areas dominated by fine-textured grasses and wildflowers.

Here are 12 of our favorite Columnar Trees that will bring some vertical impact to your landscape.

Deciduous Columnar Trees

The Slender Silhouette Sweetgum (60’ × 6’ at maturity) is a whiplash-inducing Columnar Tree that grows like a cell phone tower. This tough and adaptable Southeastern native is clothed in star-shaped foliage that turns every color of the rainbow in fall. With regular water and fertilizer, Slender Silhouette is fast-growing.

Kindred Spirit® Oak (30’ × 6’) may be the tall, dark, and handsome Tree your landscape has been dreaming of! This striking Tree attracts attention but it's narrow and tidy, meaning it is never overbearing. In fall, its silver-backed foliage takes on gold and golden-brown tones before dropping to expose a sculptural framework of upswept branches. Kindred Spirit® is fast-growing in youth and long-lived. Its brother, the Regal Prince® Oak (45’ × 18’), is the tree for you if you’d rather have an upright Oak that isn’t so skinny.

The Red Obelisk European Beech (50’ × 12’) is a magnificent Columnar Tree to plant for now and for posterity. Each spring, you’ll look forward to the shimmering red young leaves that emerge to usher in the start of the new growing season. Over time, this choice selection attains the size and grandeur of a monument, yet its naturally narrow shape keeps it in bounds.

The Crimson Pointe® Purple Leaf Plum (20’ × 6’) also gives you red foliage on a slim framework, but this trendy Tree also treats you to a springtime show of lovely, fragrant white flowers. Use it as an exclamation point in your landscape, or plant a row of Crimson Pointe® Plums to create a quick and colorful privacy screen.

Apple Trees may not spring to mind when you’re searching for a columnar accent for the garden, but svelte novelty forms like the Golden Sentinel™ Apple Tree (12’ × 3’) or the Scarlet Sentinel™ Apple Tree (12’ × 3’) could play the part. These pole-type Trees not only lend structure to the landscape but also present you with beautiful Apple blossoms in spring and plenty of healthy snacking in fall. Plant another Apple or Crabapple Tree nearby for good pollination.

Evergreen Columnar Trees

The Columnar Colorado Blue Spruce (25’ × 7’) is a spire of steely blue foliage that can slip into any sunny spot in your landscape. And don't worry—it won't overwhelm any space! This upright grower maintains its tight and formal shape without pruning. The evergreen Columnar Blue Spruce adds a welcome pop of year-round color to foundation beds, mixed borders, patio plantings, and entryway gardens.

The Columnar Norway Spruce (30’ × 10’) rises like a sentinel in the landscape, eventually standing tall and proud but remaining just a fraction of the size of a regular Norway Spruce Tree. Its forest-green needles make a wonderful backdrop to other plants’ flowers and foliage during the growing season, and it brings a welcomed dose of rich color to the bleak winter months. The Columnar Norway Spruce has an understated elegance that suits nearly any landscape style.

Although the Weeping White Spruce (30’ × 6’) has pendulous branches. Its central leader grows straight up to the sky, giving this unique evergreen Tree an air of graceful strength. It can make a big impact in large and small gardens alike—in time, Weeping White Spruce can reach 30 feet or more in height. And, at only six feet in width, it has an incredibly small footprint!

Emerald Green Arborvitae (12’ × 4’) is a popular choice for many landscapers and homeowners when a columnar evergreen is needed in a tight space. A tight row of these arborvitaes makes an effective and attractive living privacy screen that holds its bright green color throughout the year. Native to the northeastern U.S. and Canada, this tough tree adapts to many garden environments and it flourishes in all but the hottest and driest regions of our country.

The Dragon Lady® Holly (15’ × 6’) may have a standoffish name, but this special evergreen Tree is a sleek and stylish pyramid of loveliness. Vibrant red berries accent its rich green foliage during winter for extra visual appeal. Dragon Lady® naturally assumes a neat and formal shape, although it responds well to pruning if you wish to make it perfectly symmetrical.

Columnar Trees Project Strength And Confidence.

In the language of trees, Columnar trees communicate strength. These majestic sentinels grow straight and true, projecting confidence. They almost seem to guard our landscapes. Lined like soldiers along our property lines, they protect us from wind, noise, and prying eyes. 

These are the Trees that lend structure and definition to our borders, pleasantly contrasting the shrubs and flowering plants at their feet. So, when designing your own outdoor living space, consider Columnar trees!

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